By the time this letter goes to print, we will have had the first of a series of meetings to discuss a community center. Please remember, there is currently no community center plan. A community center is something I think we should explore, but I am not the decision-maker in this process. It’s a community decision.
We talked about different ideas, but I urged our Town Board to conduct a feasibility study before we jumped into anything. And they agreed. We hired consultants to conduct a feasibility study and create a plan: consultants who have done this before for other towns. That feasibility study is underway. We are looking at all of our existing buildings to see what we can repurpose as-is, what will require investment, and what new structures might be beneficial.
What will it cost to fix the bathrooms in the old Nike Base? What about the roof? Would it make more sense to save that money for a new facility? We’ve patched up those buildings (which were originally Army barracks) for many years.
While the Nike Base is just an example, it’s worth investigating whether we should continue to invest money in old structures. We need to examine what purpose and how many people these buildings serve.
Health and wellness
Anyone who passes Veteran’s Park on the weekend or the High School on a weekday night knows we are really pushing the use of our existing sporting facilities. And exercise and teamwork form important bonds and aid in overall wellbeing. But I don’t think a massive sports complex is the answer.
As your Supervisor, I have come to realize the full extent of the social problems that we face as a Town. Drugs, domestic violence, and poverty are all real issues in Grand Island. Of course, we can’t heal those ailments with a community center.
Take a look at the community centers in other towns. They offer an amazing array of services, activities, and amenities to residents of all ages and abilities.
I’ve already spoken to health care professionals interested in starting an emergency clinic on the Island. Centralized meeting rooms for groups from Zonta to Boy Scouts could help solve some of our social issues. Grand Island’s Autism Support group meets in a basement, and the American Legion often meets in the Town Hall courtroom. Groups like this are our chance to come together to make Grand Island better.
My personal vision for an ideal community center would be a place where our town can build a sense of community through culture, art, activism, education, and wellness. Everyone, from teenagers to Golden Agers, deserves a place to spend time where they feel included and important.
But the best thing about this process is that you decide. Because we are conducting this feasibility study, the community center will not be about what I want. It will be about what you want—or don’t want. But I ask you to keep an open mind. All the options are before us, and before we eliminate anything or make any knee-jerk decisions, we need to examine those options.
By the end of this process, we will know exactly what we are building, why and where. And you will know what it will cost. Or you know what we are not building and why we decided against it. No one person or group will dominate the process as long as you stay involved. If you decide not to show up or participate, your ideas and opinions will be left out.
For those worried, however, that you will be forced to build something you don’t want, you will also have another safety mechanism. In November, after our plan is done, we are going to have a referendum, which will, in effect give you the ability to vote yes or no on the decision.
Please choose wisely
From start to finish, you decide. This is an opportunity to explore something that may have huge benefits for Grand Island. Please choose wisely with logic and reason, based on facts and not emotion. I have my faith in you and in Grand Island.
With highest regards,
Supervisor Nate McMurray